DOL Helps Oil and Gas Workers Recover Back Wages

More than 5,300 workers recovered almost $4.5 million in total for unpaid overtime.

Thousands of workers employed by contractors engaged in natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are putting in a fair day's work but not receiving a fair day's pay, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. An ongoing enforcement initiative conducted by the division offices found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which resulted in employers agreeing to pay $4,498,547 in back wages to 5,310 employees.

"The Department of Labor is committed to protecting working families who bear the greatest burden when labor standards are violated," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Recovering wages for these workers will help them pay the rent, buy food for the table and clothing for their children. And it will help ensure that employers who play by the rules and pay their employees the wages they have earned are not undercut by those who gain advantage by cheating the system and their workers."

"The oil and gas industry is one of the most fissured industries. Job sites that used to be run by a single company can now have dozens of smaller contractors performing work, which can create downward economic pressure on lower level subcontractors," said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "Given the fissured landscape, this is an industry ripe for non-compliance."

The majority of violations were due to improper payment of overtime. In some cases, employees' production bonuses were not included in the regular rate of pay to determine the correct overtime rate of pay. Under the FLSA, all pay received by employees during the workweek must be factored in when determining the overtime premium to be paid. Investigators also found that some salaried employees were misclassified as exempt from the FLSA overtime provision and were not paid an overtime premium regardless of the number of hours they worked.

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